Category Archives: Israel

2018 in Review (and the Reason I’ve Been AWOL)

2018 has been a life-changing year. Yeah, every year is technically life changing. But on the spectrum of change, pregnancy and the birth of our son, little A, is kind of up there.

So that’s my excuse for being an absentee blogger. I think it’s a pretty good one. Pregnancy was as terrible as I imagined, and so much worse. Not that I wasn’t thankful and blessed. I tried to remind myself every time I heaved my innards into the toilet how lucky we were, but the day-by-day process was torture… for nine months. There isn’t any reason to sugarcoat it. I was nauseous, exhausted, starving, nauseous, achy, oh, and nauseous. I’m pretty sure my husband looked at me every day and said to himself, “I”m so glad I’m a guy.”

Traveling was hard to say the least. Our June trip to Greece, Israel, and Poland was both amazing and difficult. Besides for feeling physically sick, I struggled to get used to this new, limited version of myself. Old me wanted to climb up to the Acropolis and take a million pictures of everything. Pregnant me wanted to stay in our air conditioned hotel and sleep for hours. Pregnant me often won out.

Here’s a small taste of what I managed to see and what I’ll eventually blog about.

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View of the Acropolis in the distance. Athens, Greece

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Ethereal light on a Greek island. Aegina, Greece

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Sun setting on the Mediterranean Sea. Tel Aviv, Israel

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The gate to Birkenau – one of the biggest Nazi concentration camps. Outside Krakow, Poland

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Old town square. Krakow, Poland

I achieved one of my travel goals of getting the Southwest companion pass last year, but I was too tired to use it. By the time we got back from our June trip and I was well into my second trimester, I promised myself I wouldn’t go anywhere unless I absolutely had to.

But all that changed on November 27th – 24 minutes into his due date – A was born. It’s been five weeks and we’ve officially decided to keep him. Just kidding. We love this little guy to bits, but he does make it a lot harder to do the things we used to do. Now that the nausea is gone, the travel bug has returned with a vengeance… at least until we have our first diaper blowout on an airplane.

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My goals for 2019 are more limited in scope: Get back in shape (I have been seriously wedded to the couch for 10 months), use my Southwest companion pass to see some awesome places in the U.S. and show A our awesome country, plan a big family trip for next November/December, and sleep for more than three hours at a time.

Extra emphasis on the last one.

2018 in numbers:

0: New state visited. I have still visited 39 out of 50 states. (I hope to change that this year!)

2: New countries visited – Greece and Poland.

4: New credit cards (but three for M as well)

4: Countries visited, including the U.S.

12: States visited, including Washington D.C.

27: Flights.

26,000: Number of miles flown, 30,000 less than last year.

222,500: Number of miles redeemed. This includes two tickets from D.C. to Athens in business class, a roundtrip economy ticket for M to Rome, two tickets from New York to D.C., and  one ticket from Chicago to Knoxville.

215,000: Number of points redeemed at hotels, including two free nights due to credit cards. This includes five nights at the Hilton Athens, two nights at Hyatt Regency Amsterdam for M, and one night at the Marriott in Columbus, OH for M.

Too many to count: Car trips to West Virginia, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, and New York.

 

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Up Next: Greece, Israel, Poland

I probably should finish writing about our Thanksgiving trip to Central Europe, because it’s now six months later, and we’re about to embark on another adventure. What can I say? I get lazy sometimes.

This trip is motivated by an occasion — namely, my sister-in-law’s wedding in Israel. The original plan was to fly from D.C. to Athens, spend a couple of days in Athens, hop over to Israel for a couple of days, and then fly home. Then, we were invited on a trip to Krakow to tour the city and visit a new art exhibit. How does one say no to that?

What’s the plan and how did we do it?

D.C. – Athens

There are no direct flights from Washington D.C. to Athens, and I desperately wanted to fly business class. The pickings were slim but after obsessively checking United several times a day, I finally found two seats on Lufthansa from D.C. – Munich – Athens for 70,000 miles each. I scraped together every last Chase point and we were off!

In Athens, we will be staying five nights at the only Hilton in the city for 200,000 points. Thanks to my work travel and credit card sign-ups, this was an easy decision. Hopefully, my diamond status will come in handy.

While I would love to visit Greek islands one day, I’m too old for hopping to a new place each day. I enjoy settling into a hotel and having a base. Hopefully, we’ll take a day trip or two to some of the closer islands, like Hydra.

Athens – Tel Aviv

Since this is a short two-hour flight, we purchased these tickets with cash on El Al for $119 each.

Tel Aviv – Krakow – D.C.

I had originally booked us premium economy on Air France from Tel Aviv – Paris – D.C., but redeposited those miles for a mere 40 euros when the Poland trip came up. We will be in Krakow for three to four days (I leave a day earlier than M), following a packed itinerary of Jewish history, tours of concentration camps, and other important sites.

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